Every week I meet new people who are seeking a spiritual path outside of religion and the church. They often have a significant awareness of God and a sense of faith, but the institutional and cultural faith that they had been taught not longer resonates because it no longer seems to make sense in this hurting world. If this is you, be encouraged. The longing of your heart will lead you to transcend what has become too small for you.
Over the years I have learned to be grateful for these voices on the margins. They often are the ones that awaken us again to Gospel, to the strange and paradoxical yet life-giving engagement of God with this hurting world. They open me to longing for what is truly God, and more so, what is truly the Good News.
A profound watershed awakening happened for me during my seminary days in the early 80’s when the AIDs virus first came to the forefront. I was also an RN at the time, working in a city hospital. At the time there was no known treatment or cure, nor did we know much about any modes of transmission. People were understandably afraid. This virus was ravaging the gay community in particular, and there were at least a dozen funerals of young men posted in the newspaper every week. And I saw the Christian community turn their backs en masse on these suffering, frightened people. It was perhaps all they knew to do at the time, but it was then that I knew that I sought an engagement with a God that would lead me towards suffering, not away. There had to be something more real, more hopeful, more creative.
I look back now and see the path that this longing for a God of presence and compassion created. It opened space within me that led towards courage rather than compliance, freedom instead of protecting a religious agenda, and a deeper, trust in the living God-With-Us, instead of blindly obeying an ideology. There’s a living gospel that actually transforms, heals and saves. It takes us to the places where Jesus is found.
My journey has led me to seek teachers of the ancient Christian Contemplative path. The wisdom of the Christian Mystics offers many great theological truths of course, but it is primarily a means to intimacy with God and therefore, actual transformation- a dying to the egoic mind and awakening to a deeper, more intimate knowing of God beyond it. This serves to free me from the manufactured constructs of who I think I am or should be (and thus project onto you) towards a truer experience and expression of myself in God. This path calls us to the much larger story – the Universe story in which we see God moving in Creation, and we learn to see ourselves through the light of evolution, in other words, to realize that we are part of this beautiful whole, not separate from it. And this beautiful wholeness continually reveals God to us: God pouring Godself out as each moment and breath, each quark and particle and mote in existence; God in the here and now; God acting, creating, speaking, redeeming, flowing, now. It’s the living and enlivening flow of the Trinity now, which is the way in which we love, create and become.
And so we have a God who enters flesh, and shows us the paradoxical way to real life by emptying out in an ecstatic outpouring of love. Therefore we have a God that suffers with us, not one that stands back in judgment saying, that’s what you get. We have a God who shows the way of peace and the end of violence and exclusion as a means of resolving our tensions and problems. We have a God who teaches us to suffer alongside this hurting world, to love it and create within it, and who is the message of hope- not just a transaction for a someday Heaven, but for mercy and justice right here, right now. My little blog is a place in which I hope to share my experience with and gradual awakening to this dancing God within and amongst us.
I am a graduate of the Living School for Action and Contemplation, a Spiritual Director trained and certified by fearless and amazing Benedictine nuns, a writer, wanderer, wonderer, a woman at the well, a paralytic on a mat, a jealous worker in the vineyard, a blind Pharisee, Mary learning at Jesus’ feet, a question asker, a pot stirrer, a wife, a mom, a Psychotherapist, an occasional cynic, an urban pastor, a theology nerd, a contemplative, a Mystic wannabe, a Trekkie, an adopter of ex-racing greyhounds and non-racing cats, and a follower of Jesus and a lover of this whole messy wonderful thing which is still becoming…